Terrence Deyalsingh

Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh

Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh’s announcement of an alphabetical system for administering vaccines was meant to avoid a repeat of Wednesday’ chaotic crowds at health centres but it failed to work.

It failed because no one apparently took into account that, based on the electoral list, approximately 25 per cent per of the population have surnames beginning with A to E.

Former Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) chief executive officer Gerard Yorke, a social media commentator, shared his analysis online yesterday using data from a “Distribution of Surnames” graph sourced from the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) voters’ list.

Yorke noted on his Facebook page that with 25 per cent of the nation’s population among the A-E group based on the EBC data, and with an approximation of 300,000 persons being 60 years or older, this would throw up 75,000 senior citizens in the A-E group.

According to Yorke, if just 20 per cent had decided to present themselves to be vaccinated yesterday, it would amount to 15,000 elderly persons turning up at the various health centres with a huge number of them being turned back.

He stated there were insufficient vaccines at the health centres for these based on this new process.

Yorke expressed the view that the alphabetical system can only work efficiently if the country has in the region of one million vaccines, not 100,000, and that vaccination sites that can accommodate large numbers of people, such as the stadium, heliport or car parks at malls, are utilised.

“They need to get back to appointments only with the use of a proper call centre, private or public, to efficiently take calls. This is the system that has fallen down, not the appointment system,” Yorke posted.

More orderly day

Commenting on the new system, chief executive officer at the South West Regional Health Authority (SWRHA), Dr Brian Armour told the Express yesterday: “It was certainly less persons. We had good collaboration with the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service this morning, and all reports are there were lines yes, but people were adhering to the protocols. Therefore, for those who would have met the criteria and based on the availability, we were able to give.”

Armour said most centres would have finished dispensing their quota of vaccines between ten and 11 o’clock.

“So, it was much more orderly today, not the long lines and crowds in the South West region.”

Questioned on the dynamic of dealing with the first group of surnames from A to E and the period it would take to handle that group, Armour said: “It is what it is, we’re so happy that there’s a high demand. The demand for the vaccine is great so what we do is just look at it day by day. So certainly towards the end of today I will get a full report and then certainly we’ll collaborate with the other RHAs and the Ministry of Health.

Notwithstanding the A to E surname process, he said there was a high level of demand for vaccines but in terms of the experience, it was certainly better for healthcare workers and the public.

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A total of 200,000 Sinopharm vaccines from China arrived in Trinidad yesterday.

Trinidad and Tobago had received a gift of 100,000 Sinopharm vaccines previously from the Chinese government, bringing the total to 300,000 so far. A plane touched down at Piarco International Airport yesterday with the vaccines.

The online mockery generated from a social media post from the US Embassy in Trinidad and Tobago announcing that it had donated 80 vials of Covid-19 vaccine to this country was reported on international news site Business Insider.

THE Ministry of Health was aware of an incoming donation of 80 vials of Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine “just prior” to its arrival in the country, but the necessary documents for the United States’ gift to the Ministry of National Security were up to yesterday not yet sorted.